MANILA, Philippines – Embattled Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad on Saturday, July 12, took full responsibility for his role in the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
It was Abad's first statement since the Supreme Court struck down parts of the DAP as unconstitutional on July 1.
"In the wake of the controversy surrounding the DAP...it became clear to me that I must abide by the highest standards of accountability that we in the Aquino administration hold ourselves to," Abad said in a statement two days after he tendered his resignation to President Benigno Aquino III.
"I take full responsibility for my role in developing and implementing the DAP, as well as for the impact of the resulting controversy on the administration's governance agenda. It was therefore only fitting that I resign," he added.
Before the Cabinet's deliberation on the proposed 2015 bational budget on Friday, Aquino announced that Abad tendered his resignation the previous day but he did not accept it.
According to Abad, the President explained that "accepting it was tantamount to acknowledging wrongdoing on my end, contrary to the fact that the DAP – as conceived and implemented – proved beneficial to the country's economy and the Administration's bid for rapid and inclusive growth."
"Although I was wholly prepared to relinquish my post, I am grateful for the President's expression of his continuing trust and confidence in my leadership of the Department. I have thus chosen to defer to his better judgment and stay," he said.
The budget chief said with the President's renewed expression of trust and confidence in him, he is "determined, as I have always been, to do justice to the President's faith in my integrity and competence."
"Developments over the last year were not merely instructive; they now spur us within the DBM to carry out our responsibilities with greater vigilance and meticulousness," he said.
He added, "I assure the people that we will proceed with a keener awareness of the standards against which our work will be measured, but also with a deeper appreciation of the great opportunities for reform ahead of us."
The DAP was initiated by the Aquino administration in 2011 to address government under-spending and stimulate economic growth by transferring unused funds for slow-disbursing projects to fast-disbursing ones.
Three schemes of the program were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on July 1. (TIMELINE: The rise and fall of DAP)
President's decision 'very clear, precise'
Abad's resignation was met with criticism from the opposition, with the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesperson Toby Tiangco saying that "there was no sincerity" in Abad's action. He also asked why Abad did not submit an irrevocable resignation.
Malacañang disagrees with these insinuations. "I think to everyone else, the President made his statement very clear, that was very precise," said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
"We would be just kicking the can around if we still discuss why his resignation was not irrevocable. But the fact remains that [with] the rejection of the resignation of Secretary Abad, it shows the confidence of the President in him still, and the confidence of the President in the reforms that have been initiated under their collective watches," said Valte.
She said as far as Malacañang is concerned, the President has made a decision on the matter.
"You know you can express your opinion about it, whether you agree with the President or not, but the fact remains is that the President has made his decision, right? I think we should let it stop there," Valte said.
Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee, has directed Abad to submit the complete list of Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) disbursed under the DAP.